- Soundbars have become popular for enhancing TV audio without the clutter of a surround sound system.
- Some drawbacks of soundbars include limited stereo effect, underperforming subwoofers, and high prices for high-quality models.
- Alternatives to soundbars include floor standing speakers, home theater systems, and bookshelf speakers.
- Despite their drawbacks, soundbars offer space-saving design, easy setup, improved audio quality, and compatibility with smart home systems.
Soundbars have revolutionized home entertainment systems with sleek designs and immersive sound experiences. They have undoubtedly become a go-to choice for people looking to enhance their TV audio without the clutter and setup of a traditional surround sound system. However, like every piece of technology, they come with their own set of drawbacks. Here are some reasons to avoid a new soundbar before you make the splurge.
Some Background on Soundbars
Soundbars — compact units of speakers designed to accompany modern televisions — have been steadily gaining traction over the last few years. They are generally positioned under the TV or mounted on the wall to enhance the audio experience. Soundbars comfortably offer a better sound quality than most televisions’ built-in speakers.
These devices deliver a range of features from Bluetooth connectivity to built-in voice assistants. However, they are not without shortcomings. They still serve as a step between standard TV speakers and a full-fledge home theater system. Soundbars offer an improved auditory experience that can be tailored to individual preferences and room acoustics. It offers all of this while not overwhelming the setup nor breaking the bank.
Reasons to Avoid a New Soundbar Today
Below are some of the most prominent reasons to avoid a new soundbar:
Over-Dependence on Wireless Technology
Most modern soundbars rely heavily on wireless technology for connectivity. This allows for a cleaner setup devoid of tangled wires but often leads to potential connectivity issues. Interference from other wireless devices, limited range, and sometimes inconsistent connection can disrupt the audio experience, making it less seamless than wired systems.
Limited Stereo Effect
Soundbars, being compact, contain speakers that are placed relatively close to each other. This closeness can limit the stereo effect, which ideally requires a broader separation between the left and right channels to create an immersive sound stage. Despite the advancements in sound technology, soundbars may still fall short of delivering a genuine surround sound experience.
Built-In Subwoofers Often Underperform
Many soundbars aim to save space and reduce the number of components by coming with built-in subwoofers. However, it’s important to understand that these built-in subwoofers often fail to match the performance and quality of a separate subwoofer. If you’re an audiophile or a home theater enthusiast looking for deep and powerful bass, the soundbar may not quite reach your expectations.
High-Quality Models Can Be Pricey
High-end soundbars equipped with features like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X tend to be quite pricey. While these soundbars offer superior sound quality and features, their cost might not justify the incrementally improved audio experience for the average user, especially when compared to a good quality home theater system, which could potentially offer a better value for money.
Some Models Have Limited Connectivity Options
While this is not universal, some soundbars come with limited connectivity options. This limitation can be a hindrance if you plan to connect multiple devices to your soundbar. Before purchasing, ensure that the soundbar supports all the required connections, be it HDMI, optical, or analog inputs.
Soundbars May Not Align With TV Aesthetics
Soundbars are generally designed with a modern, sleek aesthetic. However, their design may not always complement your television or the interior décor of your living room. Moreover, finding the right size that aligns well with your TV can sometimes be a challenge, which, if not met, can disrupt the harmonious look of your entertainment setup.
Firmware Updates Can Be Cumbersome
Like many gadgets, soundbars require firmware updates to fix bugs and improve performance. The issue here is that this process can often be cumbersome. Users will sometimes need to download updates from the manufacturer’s website manually and install them using a USB. This, of course, isn’t always the case, but if it is, it’s an inconvenience for those who are not so tech-savvy.
Remote Control Clutter
Adding a soundbar to your home entertainment system usually means adding one more remote control to your coffee table. While some soundbars can be controlled via TV remotes or smartphone apps, many still come with their own dedicated remote, contributing to the clutter and potentially complicating the control scheme.
Soundbars can consume significant energy, especially those with powerful amplifiers and multiple features. This increased energy consumption can contribute to higher electricity bills over time. If energy efficiency is a priority for you, it might be worth reconsidering the addition of a soundbar to your home entertainment setup.
Limited Upgrade Options
Often, soundbars offer limited possibilities for upgrades or expansions. If you are a tech enthusiast who likes to keep updating your system with the latest technology, you might find a soundbar somewhat restrictive. Its self-contained nature means you can’t simply upgrade individual components with a more modular home theater system.
Sound Reflection and Room Acoustics
Soundbars, with their sleek and compact design, often rely on the reflection of sound waves off the walls of your room to create a surround sound effect. This means that your room’s acoustic properties can significantly influence your soundbar’s performance. In rooms with irregular shapes or open plans, the sound produced by a soundbar may not be as immersive or well-distributed as you would like.
Alternatives to New Soundbars
Considering the potential issues associated with new soundbars, you might want to explore some alternatives to enhance your audio experience:
Floor Standing Speakers
Floor standing speakers, otherwise known as tower speakers, are a popular option among many TV enthusiasts. They offer incredible sound quality and often add to the overall aesthetic of the TV setup by being placed on both sides.
- Features WaveGuide technology
- Tweeter: 25mm (1-inch) soft dome
- Woofer: 127mm (5-inch)
- Supports flexible placement with its compact cabinet design
Home Theater Systems
For those seeking an actual cinematic audio experience, a home theater system might be a more suitable option. These systems generally offer superior sound quality and a more immersive audio experience than soundbars.
You might consider investing in a pair of good bookshelf speakers for a more compact solution without compromising on sound quality. These speakers can offer a rich and detailed sound profile, often exceeding the capabilities of a soundbar.
Reasons You May Still Want to Purchase a Soundbar
Despite some perceived drawbacks, acquiring a soundbar can still be wise for numerous individuals—one of the primary reasons being their space-saving design. Sleek and compact, soundbars are perfect for those who might need more luxury in a spacious living room. Their slender build allows them to integrate seamlessly into various settings, offering an aesthetically pleasing addition to your entertainment space without creating clutter.
Further, soundbars present an uncomplicated setup process. They typically require fewer cables and less time than a comprehensive home theater system, making them an attractive plug-and-play option. Not to mention, they provide a substantial improvement over the built-in speakers in most televisions, delivering a richer and clearer sound that significantly enhances your viewing experience.
Moreover, soundbars offer an accessible pathway to superior audio quality. With options available across a range of price points, finding a soundbar that fits within your budget and markedly uplifts your TV’s audio output is possible. Their versatility also extends to compatibility with smart homes. Numerous modern units are equipped with features that allow for seamless integration with various smart home systems. This level of integration ensures you can control your soundbar with simple voice commands, offering a unified, smart control experience.
- Two custom-engineered upfiring dipole speakers
- Exclusive Bose Voice4Video technology
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect
- Bose TrueSpace spatial processing
- Built-in Google and Alexa
- Noise-rejecting microphones
While soundbars have undoubtedly brought a lot to the table in terms of enhancing the audio experience associated with modern televisions, they are not without their flaws. Issues ranging from limited stereo effect to high costs and energy consumption make them a less-than-perfect solution for everyone. Before purchasing, consider the reasons to avoid a new soundbar and evaluate whether it is the right choice for your home entertainment system.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Proxima Studio/Shutterstock.com.